Council Tax will rise in Plymouth for next four years to fund policing
THE price of policing is set to go up for city residents amid Government cuts and soaring costs for dealing with crime.
The average Band D council taxpayer will be required to contribute a total of £162.92 for the year to the Devon and Cornwall Police budget from April 1.
The money will go towards meeting a pledge by Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg to stop cuts in the number of officers.
The portion of council tax which goes to the police will rise by 2per cent – and the bill is likely to go up 2per cent in each of the following three years, the region's Police and Crime Panel heard yesterday.
The force takes about 10per cent of council tax paid by residents.
The panel approved a budget set by Mr Hogg, who was elected as Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner last November.
Figures seen by the panel reveal that dealing with crime, anti-social behaviour and family dysfunction in Plymouth costs £370million a year.
Family problems alone accounted for a shocking £93million in 2011/12, figures from the Plymouth Community Safety Partnership show.
This was closely followed by alcohol and the night-time economy, which cost £81million.
The figures are an estimate of spending by the organisations and agencies that make up the partnership – the police, fire service, NHS, Probation Service, and city council.
Mr Hogg told the panel that he will begin recruiting again after a two-year freeze, which has resulted in a 68per cent fall in the number of officers under the age of 26.
In 2014 the police will recruit 120 officers; 134 in 2015; and 140 in each of the following two years.
Mr Hogg said the original forecast, drawn up before he was elected, would have seen police numbers cut to 2,800. That would have left only 125 officers available for neighbourhood policing.
The number of PCSOs will fall from 414 to 360, but Mr Hogg said the PCSOs would provide a pool of partly trained officers to recruit from.
And he said he would allow recruitment of 200 extra Special Constables by April 2017.
In a letter, Plymouth Cabinet member Cllr Chris Penberthy, a member of the Police and Crime Panel, called on Mr Hogg to deal with a disproportionate level of domestic abuse and high levels of acquisitive crime in the city.
And Devon county councillor Roger Croad, the panel chairman, said Mr Hogg's Police and Crime Plan was "all things to all men".
"He needs to prioritise certain areas, especially drugs and alcohol and rural crime," Mr Croad said.
Cllr Nicky Williams, a rival for Mr Hogg's job last year and now a member of the panel, said she was worried about the future of funding for groups like Devon Rape Crisis, which will now come out of the police budget. However, Cllr Penberthy said the change could be good news for smaller voluntary groups.